Feds sue Michigan man over Belle Isle, Maine lighthouse lenses


DETROIT (WLNS) – The U.S. Justice Department has sued a Livingston County man over the two lighthouse lenses worth an estimated $600,000.

The lenses in question disappeared from lighthouses on Belle Isle and in Portland, Maine, many years ago, and were previously thought to be lost.

The Detroit News reports that the legal battle pitting the U.S. Coast Guard against antique hunter Steven Gronow has the potential to restore a valuable piece of Detroit history to Belle Isle.

Members of the lighthouse community, however, suggest the Justice Department is picking on a preservationist who has saved rare treasures that were once treated like trash by the government after it switched from manually operated lighthouses to automated beacons.

Federal court records and interviews describe a decades-long hunt and a wealthy man whose hobby is finding maritime antiques, occasionally in war zones.

Gronow has declined to say whether or not he still has lenses.

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